Guided Africa

I’m a sucker for love in all its forms. I just love love.

This week I felt myself falling in love with my husband all over again, and I feel renewed and affirmed in that feeling whenever I get it – and it’s often. At least once a month, and maybe, sometimes, ovulation hormones are involved haha! 

 For someone who 1) falls in love often, and 2) listens to a lot of romance audiobooks, you would think I have an eloquent way to describe the feeling of continually falling in love with my husband but I have no words that adequately capture that feeling. 

I am a hopeless romantic but I am not at all convinced by the dominant narrative that says we must lead with romantic feelings when making long term decisions about partnerships and marriage. 

Feelings fluctuate, and they can be fickle so I see partnered relationships like marriage as cakes baked of devotion, commitment and shared values. 

Romance feelings are icing, and not all cakes need it. The icing can either be a delicately made ganache, with just the right balance of ingredients, which enhances a great cake. Icing can also be like fondant – so good to look at but nobody enjoys it. Icing can also mask a dry ass, crumbly cake that tastes like a cereal box. I mean, you can even put your icing on a polystyrene dummy cake. You get me?

We are all baking these cakes from family recipes and based on the examples of our elders and how our families baked their cakes. We need to remember though that some recipes were developed in times of famine and sanctions with what little was available at the time. We can adapt our recipes according to where we are and what we know now.

Partnered relationships are like cake because they are a lovely treat to enjoy if available. Nobody is malnourished from lack of cake. We are nourished, fed and fulfilled by other foods that fortify our bodies and tantalize our tastebuds. 

To spell it out – there are so many other vital and humanizing forms of love we can enjoy whether or not we experience romantic love. It is not the only valid form of intimacy and connection. But it’s nice though so I hope everyone who wants it, gets it.

My husband and I first loved each other as friends, and that friendship is what warms the oven where we bake the cake of our partnership. That elation and triumph of lighting that fire for the first time are just that. We now have the task of maintaining these flames at just the right temperature, to not only bake this cake but also prepare other nourishing dishes and delicious desserts. The fire we lit also has to warm our home. 

Something that struck me, as I was reflecting on my latest feelings of falling in love, was the realization that neither of us will ever feel that excitement, nervousness and zing-zing-zing electricity of falling in love for the first time with each other ever again. 

I had some mixed feelings about knowing that the feeling of falling in love with each other for the first time can never be repeated or replicated. I felt a bit sad because you can fall in love with a person for the first time only once.

 I also felt relieved that none of the butterflies we feel now are attached to feelings of anxiety or even fear of disappointment and rejection. Most importantly, I felt a great deal of assurance and security that our romantic feelings for each other are the delicious icing on a yummy cake we have baked with meticulous care. 

When we fall in love with each other now, it’s a different experience because we have loved each other for so long, and in so many ways. We are falling in love without the uncertainty and anxiety of whether we are on the same page, or where these feelings are going to lead us – because we have been together for almost a decade, and we know what we are working towards together. 

I have already said that I am a hopeless romantic, but I must also disclose that for me, romance is a very practical consideration – there is deep romantic sentiment in how we interact, lighten each other’s loads, and in how we enact care for each other. 

That is to say, I adore flirtation, flowers and fuzziness but to me, nothing says romance quite like shared emotional labour and a just division of the mental load of relationship maintenance – emotional and logistical. 

After all, what is more, romantic than a partner who backs up their feelings with how they behave, how they speak to you, how they treat you and how they attend to their growth and healing? 

I don’t mean to create a false equivalence between the work of maintaining a relationship, and gestures of intimacy within a relationship because I believe that there is room for everything to coexist. I just think that the warm and fuzzies can only enrich a firm friendship and consolidate compassionate companionship, not replace them. 

  • Homework
  • 1. Write the relationship cake recipe you learnt from home

2. Write your own relationship cake recipe

3. Compare the two

4. Reflect

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